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What is a Concussion?

The head strikes a hard object creating a concussion-type injury. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury.brain

Concussions can cause a variety of physical, cognitive and emotional changes. The signs and symptoms can show immediately, or up to one week after the injury.

ImPACT Concussion Testing

The ImPACT program is a management tool used to determine when it's safe for a student athlete to return to sports following a brain injury. A unique software program measures student brain function prior to sports activity, so that a baseline is established for reference should a sports injury occur at a later date.

ImPACT stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test. The test takes twenty minutes to administer and has become a standard tool used in the comprehensive management of concussions of all types for people of all ages.

How does it work?

For students in contact sports, the test is administered prior to the start of a sports season to record an individual's responses. This creates a "norm" measurement (baseline) for that student.

Following a concussion, the test is readministered and compared to the baseline results. The doctor and/or occupational therapist discuss changes and progress with the parent to determine level of risk for return to sports play.

ImPACT is used to:

  • Establish a baseline score
  • Assess the post-injury condition
  • Keep track of recovery for a safe return to sports.

ImPACT measures:

  • Physical symptoms
  • Attention span
  • Working memory
  • Response variability
  • Non-verbal problem solving
  • Reaction time
  • Sustained and selective attention time

Who should take the ImPACT test?

The test is recommended for:

  • Children at the start of 7th, 9th, and 11th grades for baseline scores as brain development occurs
  • Athletes involved in contact sports
  • Following an injury in sports, motor vehicle accident, or from a fall

Why is concussion testing important?

If athletes return to sports play before their concussion has healed properly, they are more susceptible to an injury known as Second Impact Syndrome.

The Minnesota Legislature recently passed a law requiring that a medical release be issued before a student injured with a concussion can return to play. The best way to know if a child is ready to return to sports is to have a comparison of what cognitive responses were prior to the injury.

We are fortunate in our community to have a testing program already in place. Rice Rehab Center began offering ImPACT Concussion Testing when they applied for an received a grant from Rice Health Foundation in 2008. "Endowment grants are important to the hospital because very specialized programming becomes available to our community if we have additional dollars," says Stier. "We can offer more services that enhance community care."

Working with local schools, Rice Rehab provided free baseline testing to local student athletes in football, soccer, hockey, basketball, wrestling, baseball, and softball sports programs its first year.

This year, Rice Rehab Center offers free ImPACT baseline testing to local student athletes in football, soccer, volleyball, tennis, hockey, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming and diving, baseball, softball, and pole vaulting school sports programs.

"As a parent, this program is important to me to make sure that my child's brain stays healthy. If you injure your ankle, you rest it. If you injure your brain, it needs to rest, too. You can't replace a brain - that's why we need to know when it's safe for our kids to return to play," says Rice Rehab Director Lynn Stier.


For more information about the ImPACT Concussion Testing Program, please contact:

Rice Rehabilitation Center
311 SW 3rd St.
Willmar, MN 56201

Lynn Stier, Director

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